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Agriculture

Farmers' Issue: 100 British MPs Write to Boris Urging Him to Take Up Protests With PM Modi

'Many constituents, especially those emanating from Punjab and other parts of India, were horrified to see the use of water cannons, tear gas and brute force...'

New Delhi: A tweet by British MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has brought to the fore the fact that more than 100 MPs and peers from various parties in Britain had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, expressing concern over the farmers’ protest in India.


Slough MP Dhesi has been leading a drive to keep the protests by the Indian farmers against the government’s controversial farm laws in the news in Britain.

The letter is dated January 5 and asks Johnson, in no uncertain terms, to take up the matter of the farmers’ agitation and the police action on them with Prime Minister Narendra Modi whenever they meet next.

It was presumably sent after the British government announced that Johnson would not be travelling to India as chief guest of the Republic Day functions so as to be able to oversee the response to the coronavirus situation in the UK.

The “current deadlock” that Dhesi has tweeted about refers to rounds of talks between farmers’ unions and the Centre. While thousands of farmers have stood their ground on their demand that three farm laws be repealed, in eight rounds of talks, the government has not agreed to their demand.

Also read: Farm Law Talks: 8th Round Inconclusive as Centre Says ‘Can’t and Won’t Repeal Laws’

The writers, who include Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, also say that they had written to foreign secretary Dominic Raab, urging him to take the matter up during his visit to India in December. However, while Raab took it up with external affairs minister S. Jaishankar, he did not broach it with Modi, the letter alleges.

The letter mentions the effect of the protests on the diaspora who make up a significant portion of the constituencies of the MPs.

“Many constituents, especially those emanating from Punjab and other parts of India, were horrified to see the use of water cannons, tear gas and brute force being used on hundreds of thousands of peacefully protesting farmers. The issue has so galvanised the Indian diaspora community, especially those of a Punjabi or Sikh background, and others who have land or links to farming in India, that tens of thousands engaged in global protests, including in towns and cities across the UK,” the letter said.

The British MPs have also written of Johnson’s gaffe in parliament, when upon being asked as to how Britain would respond to the farmers’ issue by Dhesi, Johnson mistook the situation to mean unrest with Pakistan.

“So, will the Prime Minister (Johnson) convey to the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) our heartfelt anxieties, our hopes for a speedy resolution to the current deadlock and does he agree that everyone has a fundamental right to peaceful protest,” Dhesi had asked Johnson.

“Our view is that of course we have serious concerns about what is happening between India and Pakistan but these are pre-eminently matters for those two governments to settle and I know that he appreciates that point,” said Johnson.